News 15 Jan 2009

Racing Insider #9

Ducati’s Wrooom event continued at Madonna de Campiglio today, with pictures released of Nicky Hayden on the Desmosedici GP9 challenger.

News has came through that Kawasaki’s factory MotoGP test team were testing at Eastern Creek in New South Wales yesterday and today, with Olivier Jacque testing an updated 2009 version of the ZX-RR in a private test before they move on to Phillip Island in Victoria next week.

The test comes as a surprise after Kawasaki’s announcement that it is quitting MotoGP this year, and Cycle News is reporting that a Kawasaki spokesman claimed that the test took place basically because the bikes and equipment were already on their way to Australia before the decision to pull out was final.

No lap times have been released from the test, although sources who went to the circuit this afternoon said that Kawasaki packed up following the morning sessions due to the blazing heatwave that has hit Sydney in the past week.

Nicky Hayden on his GP9

Nicky Hayden on his GP9

Ducati’s Wrooom event continued at Madonna de Campiglio today, with pictures released of Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden on their Desmosedici GP9 challenger. The bike was supposed to be released in public to the assembled press, although heavy snow forced the cancellation of its intro for today. It will be introduced tomorrow.

Studio pictures have been released, though, which are the first official images of Hayden in his Ducati leathers and with his trademark number 69 on the bright glow red Ducati.

Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali gave a rundown of the new carbon-fibre framed machine, which they are hoping will regain the world championship that Stoner won in 2007.

“The GP9 is characterised by a major change in the chassis, with the switch from the traditional Ducati steel trellis chassis with a carbon-fibre frame that brings the upper part of the engine up to the level of the steering column,” said Domenicali. “It is a change we have thought about and tested for a long time, firstly with Vittoriano [Guareschi], who is always our first point of reference. He gave his approval to the new system and then the official riders tested it at Barcelona.

“Amongst the other updates on the GP9 one of the most relevant is an evolution of the engine management system, with a new combination of airbox and mapping that should provide a flatter power curve and improve rideability, as well as improving outright power, which currently remains more or less the same as last year.”

Domenicali also commented on the future state of MotoGP.

Claudio Domenicali

Claudio Domenicali

“It is definitely a situation we have to face up to right now but I would like to take a slightly different view of it, because whilst it is true that companies are having to face up to changes, with reducing sales of cars or bikes, on the other hand motorcycle racing, like so many other sports, is well loved, it has so many fans all over the world and it will find a way to move forward,” he said. “We are considering a variety of proposals, together with the other constructors, the organisers and the Federation [FIM] with this objective in mind; for example modifying the rules on the durability of the engines, which produce one of the biggest costs in MotoGP.

“The objective of extending engine durability is a matter for 2010 because it involves modifications that include the redesigning of internal components and that takes a certain amount of time. For this season we are looking at taking a step towards it by reducing the length of each practice session. Ducati also has to face up to this difficult situation but we have the support of solid partners. Of course these are tough times but there are still plenty of ways to make sure that the MotoGP World Championship remains a leading promotional vehicle.”

It’s great to see that the manufacturers and series organisers are working together as a team on these projects to ensure the sport’s future success.

Australian Superbikes
Sources have indicated that the Yamaha Racing Team is having its initial test with the 2009 model YZF-R1 at Phillip Island, giving Jamie Stauffer and Dan Stauffer their first taste of the “big-bang” MotoGP-inspired Superbike.

Confirmation hasn’t come through that the team is testing yet, although it certainly is possible considering the bikes have arrived in the country for the international media launch.

Motologic Honda is testing with Glenn Allerton and Wayne Maxwell at Winton next week, along with a horde of satellite riders including Craig Coxhell, Chris Trounson and a few Superstock Cup riders.

We’ll give info on both tests when it filters through.

Kawasaki have already begun testing with Kevin Curtain and Ben Attard, with sources stating that the all-new ZX-6R has been very competitive in the hands of Attard already.

Team Joe Rocket Suzuki has also completed testing with Superbike riders Shawn Giles and Josh Waters, along with road race rookie Troy Herfoss on the GSX-R600 Supersport racer. Herfoss is the reigning American Supermoto Champion and has signed with the team for 2009.

AMA Supercross
Check out this cool interview with Joe Gibbs from JGR Racing, the NASCAR squad that joined the sport of Supercross and Motocross last season. JGR scored their first victory at Anaheim’s season opener earlier this month with Josh Grant onboard, and former NFL coach and NASCAR team boss Joe Gibbs is excited about his team’s progress over the past year. The interview is here: Grant still leads the series heading into Anaheim 2 this weekend.

Australian Off-Road

Dates for the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship have been released, with the series set to be a cracker as world champion Stefan Merriman returns home for Ballard’s Yamaha to challenge Husqvarna’s reigning champ Chris Hollis. Former series winner Anthony Roberts will also be eager to perform at his best for the GHR Honda team.

Here are the 2009 AORC dates:
Rds1&2 7-8 March Hastings Valley MX Complex NSW
Rds3&4 16-17 May Hobby Yards NSW
Rds5&6 27-28 June Murray Bridge SA
Rds7&8 15-16 August Venue TBA QLD
Rds9&10 12-13 September Venue TBA NSW

Dakar Rally
As reported yesterday, Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally has been cancelled due to the forecast of fog in the area. The race will continue tomorrow and pick up on Stage 12.